Sarah Somerset-How, 49, and George Webb, 40, both residents of Bognor Regis, have been convicted of neglecting, abusing, and exploiting a vulnerable man who happened to be Somerset-How’s husband. The distressing series of events unfolded in court, revealing a heartbreaking story of betrayal and cruelty.
The ordeal began in 2016 when Webb was hired as a live-in carer for Somerset-How’s 40-year-old husband, who required constant care due to his condition. However, instead of providing the necessary support, the accused duo conspired to subject their victim to unimaginable suffering while pursuing their own interests.
Over a span of four years, Somerset-How’s husband was subjected to physical and psychological abuse, deprived of sufficient food and drink, and forced to endure appalling living conditions. Cut off from his own family, the victim’s plight finally came to light in August 2020 when he bravely disclosed the horrifying circumstances to his loved ones, prompting them to contact the authorities.
Following the distressing revelation, the victim was immediately relocated to a safe environment, and a thorough investigation was launched. Subsequent examination of the defendants’ mobile phone records provided damning evidence of their sexual relationship, deliberate neglect, drug use, and planning of illicit activities.
Webb was subsequently arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including wilful neglect as a care worker, holding a person in slavery/servitude, causing actual bodily harm, fraud by false representation, and theft. Somerset-How also faced charges of wilful neglect as a care worker, holding a person in slavery/servitude, fraud by false representation, and theft.
After a painstaking trial at Portsmouth Crown Court, on Friday, May 12, both defendants were found guilty of wilful neglect and holding a person in slavery/servitude. Webb was further convicted of causing actual bodily harm. However, they were acquitted of the charges of fraud by false representation and theft.
The couple is set to be sentenced at Portsmouth Crown Court on July 14, where the court will consider the severity of their crimes and determine appropriate punishment.
Detective Constable Cheyne Garrett, who played a crucial role in the investigation, expressed his gratitude to a friend who had alerted the victim’s family to the distressing situation. Their swift action in reporting their concerns, despite the accused duo’s attempts to isolate the victim and those close to him, was instrumental in bringing the case to light.
DC Garrett issued a heartfelt plea to anyone facing similar circumstances, emphasizing the importance of seeking help in such situations. No relationship, be it romantic, friendly, or professional, should ever make an individual feel unsafe, isolated, or diminished. He urged individuals who experience bullying, entrapment, fear, or feelings of inadequacy to reach out for assistance.
“This conviction shows the importance of reporting any concerns or suspicions. If you feel something is not right, contact police online, via 101 or by calling 999 in an emergency.”